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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Nov 9, 2012

The new month is here and it is only three weeks until Thanksgiving and seven weeks until Christmas.

In those few weeks there will be lots of planning work to be done in working on next year’s cropping plans and a multitude of different decisions to be made and products lined up for the 2013 growing season.

Many of the seed decisions have been made already as early ordering has been the norm in which we can all envision how well the seed corn crop did in a very tough growing season, and don’t want to lock-in second-tier hybrids, or get stuck with traits that give questionable returns.

Buying fertilizer was mostly a nonevent as not as much was extracted in 2012 as was applied. The question of what to use for weed control is one that can be delayed as information about each and about programs will be in effect still have to be unveiled.

At least most of us now have a good idea about which products don’t control waterhemp. Unless things change unexpectedly there are not many new herbicides that will be revealed between now and next spring.

That leaves quite a few weeks in which all sorts of issues and ideas can be examined, surveyed, voted on, thrown into the discussion and decided upon.

Lastly, whenever we Midwesterners visit a location with an ocean view and a beach we all think how great it would be to live near an ocean.

We have our blizzards and floods, and once in a while a damaging tornado, but we never get hurricanes that destroy major parts of a city or state. Watching Hurricane or Superstorm Sandy gather and explode in strength the week before the election was amazing.

Strong winds are tough on trees and buildings alike, but having a 14-foot storm surge and 20-foot waves seems unreal.

Now those poor inhabitants get to pick up the pieces, clean out the sand or mud, or pick the pieces of their lives together in the few short weeks before winter hits.

It’s going to be tough on a lot of people who now have to hunker down to get those tasks done. Be sure to contribute when the plate is passed in the next weeks.

2013 markets

Now that more than 95 percent of the corn in the state has been harvested, the market prognosticators are already involved in the task of guessing how many acres and bushels of each major crop will be produced next season. The first of those surveys was just released and it had about a 500,000-acre increase in corn projected.

And trend line yields were going to be produced on all of those acres. How close to accurate might those guesses be? They apparently had to start somewhere, but in the real world no one is expecting farmers in the western Corn Belt where the ground is very dry at 12 inches to get overjoyed about planting second-year corn next year.

Most of this year’s corn has to be credited to having a nearly full moisture profile going into the season of having rain during those two weeks in May when it actually did rain.

Remember that we did receive several 1-inch-plus rains last November and December where the moisture soaked into the unfrozen soils. We have not received many of those yet.

These next two months are traditionally drier with about 3 inches normally falling before Jan. 1.

What will most growers’ approach be in mid-March if not much moisture has fallen and there is little snow melt or winter rain?

If that happens and the trend towards La Nina has intensified, then a high percentage of farmers, and their bankers and suppliers could be getting nervous about the season.

And other than signing up for a high rate of crop insurance and taking the steps to drought proof the crops as much as possible, there is not much more that can be done.

With the survey they also released the figures on production, usage, exports and carry outs. There have been many articles where learned people have pointedly questioned the pencil pushing that has occurred where bushels from 2013 got co-mingled with 2012 supplies, and then more beans were found from the 2011 season.

Already the harvested acres figures are not being believed. Two of us recently traveled across an area in east central Missouri and southern Illinois. We saw many fields where the volunteer corn was extremely heavy and it looked as though 10 to 15 bushels of corn had passed through the combine.

When we asked the locals about that, they responded that those bushels had actually been disked under. Those zeroed acres have not be accurately accounted for and remain tallied as having produced the 122 bushels per acre.

The current world situation among coarse grains is that the Australian wheat crop is short on both yield and protein, while the Indian wheat crop looks good so far. This could spur demand for U.S. hard spring or winter wheat next summer.

Will the western and southwestern states get the rain they need to supply the crop needs?

New soil fertility book

Going back about 15 years, one of the top soil fertility professionals in the world was a German fellow by the name of Dr. Horst Marschner. He did his research and taught at Hohenheim University, located in Stuttgart.

He wrote his signature text book titled “Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants,” which was released in 1995.

In thumbing through my new copy, this one contains information about why some of the new foliars out of Europe had produced the great results that have been reported.

Why this may fit is that if next year ends up being a very dry year, and we recognize that the soil doesn’t contain as much moisture as is needed for a full crop, but we have a cooler summer, we may be left trying to figure out if a planned regiment of foliar fertilizers would be the best way to get nutrition into the plant.

Anhydrous season

The soil temps have dropped enough in the past two weeks that the anhydrous 50-degree magic temperature has been reached.

And because most parts of the state have had 1 to 2 inches of rain, there is enough moisture to allow the soils to hold any applied material.

So over the next three weeks, or until freeze up we can expect to see lots of tanks and applicators out in the fields. Is this the best method of applying nitrogen or not?

What we do see and what is recommended by more people is to use at least two different materials with different release periods to ensure an adequate and constant supply to the growing crop.

This may mean applying 50 to 70 percent of the crop needs via this 82 percent with the remainder being a spring 28/32 topdress with the residual herbicide or possibly a fall or spring AMS application to provide nitrogen for stalk degradation and sulfur for the summer crop needs.

If efficiency is a goal and there is the time and labor to spoon-feed a corn crop, then more UAN is planned, often accompanied by a stabilizer.

If drought is going to be an issue, then using a dead on dribbler or foliar 21 percent may be the most effective and efficient.

Thus the program for each grower can vary greatly. The issue and recommendations can vary depending on final cost and what equipment is available along with growing conditions next season.

Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143.

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